The Ledes

Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Guardian: "The UK supreme court has cleared the way for the publication of secret letters written by Prince Charles to British government ministers, declaring that an attempt by the state to keep them concealed was unlawful. The verdict – the culmination of a 10-year legal fight by the Guardian – is a significant blow for the government, which has been battling to protect the Prince of Wales from scrutiny over his 'particularly frank' interventions on public policy."

Washington Post: "Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes early Thursday in neighboring Yemen, heading a coalition of Arab nations in an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through that country. The strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week." ...

     ... New York Times UPDATE: "Egypt said Thursday that it was prepared to send troops into Yemen as part of a Saudi-led campaign to drive back the Iranian-backed Houthi advance, signaling the growing likelihood of a protracted ground war on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula."

New York Times: "As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a [Germanwings] jet with 150 people on board crashed amid a relatively clear sky, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in." ...

     ... ** UPDATE: "The co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 deliberately crashed the aircraft, French officials said Thursday, pointing to voice recorder evidence that he had locked the captain out of the cockpit, ignored his pleas for re-entry and steered down into the French Alps as passengers were heard screaming. The assertions instantly changed the nature of the Tuesday crash, which obliterated the Airbus A320 and killed all 150 aboard, into a wide-ranging criminal investigation that focused on the co-pilot, a 28-year-old German with no obvious reason to commit mass murder, who had been hired less than two years ago." ...

     ... The Guardian's live updates are here.

... Washington Post: "A mother and daughter from Prince William County were among three Americans who perished when an Airbus jet plunged into a frozen ridge in the French Alps this week, officials said Wednesday. Yvonne Selke, a longtime government contractor, and Emily Selke, a recent graduate of Drexel University, died Tuesday along with 148 others on the Germanwings flight from Spain to Germany."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

New York Times: "On Wednesday, the Army announced that it was charging Sergeant [Beau] Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion, raising the possibility that he could be imprisoned again, this time for life."

New York Times: "Rescuers on Wednesday resumed the difficult task of searching for the 150 victims of a deadly plane crash in the French Alps, as France’s interior minister said that terrorism was not at the top of the list of potential causes."

Washington Post: "Yemen’s embattled president was pushed deeper into crisis Wednesday after fleeing a last-ditch refuge as advancing Shiite rebels seized a key air base in a push to overrun the country’s second-largest city. The whereabouts of Western-allied President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was not immediately clear."

Put Some Ketchup on that Velveeta. New York Times: "Kraft Foods and H. J. Heinz, two icons of the American food industry, are merging in a blockbuster deal involving the billionaire Warren E. Buffett and the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, creating what will be the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world.... Heinz, which is owned by 3G Capital and Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, will control 51 percent of the combined company, while Kraft shareholders will own 49 percent."

AP: "Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. will be released from a federal prison on Thursday and will serve out the remainder of his term in a Washington, D.C., halfway house, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press after visiting Jackson. Kennedy said he spoke with Jackson at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama, where the son of the civil rights leader has been serving a 2 ½-year sentence after pleading guilty to illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items."

CBS New York: "The Connecticut home of the man who carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been demolished, Newtown officials said Tuesday. The 2-acre lot where the 3,100-square-foot house once stood in a leafy, suburban neighborhood will be left as open space under a plan approved by town officials.... Everything inside the home, including rugs and lighting fixtures, had previously been removed and incinerated so that no remnants were available to become memorabilia."

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 26

4:10 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in Birmingham, Alabama

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

"In March 2015, Robert Kenner, the Director of 'Food Inc' and other acclaimed documentaries, will debut his newest, 'Merchants of Doubt'. Based on the book by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, the film follows the development of sophisticated methods for distorting science, used by the Tobacco industry to hide the poisonous nature of their products, and adapted by the Fossil Fuel industry to distort the science around climate change":

... Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post discusses the documentary: "... Marc Morano, a professional climate-change denier and founder of the Climate Depot Web site ... is, arguably, the star of Kenner’s film. After a stint in the 1990s reporting for Rush Limbaugh, Morano worked briefly as a flack for Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who famously called global warming a 'hoax.' He also plays dirty. In 'Doubt,' Morano recounts with glee how he has published the e-mail addresses of climate scientists, subjecting them to intimidation and flaming attacks from anonymous critics. (Several of the abusive e-mails are read aloud in the film by their recipients...."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker on true-crime documentaries like "The Jinx," the story of Robert Durst: "In the past several decades, true-crime documentaries have emerged as a kind of secondary appeals system...."

New York Times: "Marilynne Robinson won the National Book Critics Circle Award on Thursday for her novel 'Lila,' the final book in her trilogy set in the fictional Gilead, Iowa." The story names the other winners of this award, which -- at least among writers -- is more prestigious than the Pulitzer.

Guardian: "A presenter on the Spanish-language network Univision has defended himself after he was fired for making comments which appeared to compare US first lady Michelle Obama to 'something from the cast of Planet of the Apes'.... The situation is slightly murkier than it may have at first appeared. In the segment of the show in question, [Rodner] Figueroa had been discussing the work of a Filipino makeup artist named Paolo Ballesteros, who specialises in transforming himself into celebrities.... In a letter released through his PR firm, in Spanish and translated by the Guardian, Figueroa apologised but argued his remarks had been misinterpreted, saying he had been disparaging Ballesteros’s makeup talent, not making a slur about the first lady." ...

... CW: For what it's worth (not much), I would not have fired Figueroa. This seems to be a rare instance in which the excuse "I used a poor choice of words" is accurate.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Tuesday
Nov062012

Presidential Race

PRESIDENT OBAMA RE-ELECTED!!!

Associated Press and/or network calls as of 7:00 am ET:

CBS News Live Election Coverage. Click the start arrow to activate:

PBS is now livestreaming election coverage here.

Univision is livestreaming Spanish-language coverage of the election results here.

The Washington Post's updated election maps are here. (Link updated.)

The New York Times currently has its results on the front page.

Politico's election results maps are here.

Latest Associated Press election-related videos:

   

BTW, the New York Times is taking down its paywall for 24 hours beginning at 3 pm ET today.

News Ledes

President Obama's acceptance speech:

     ... Here's the full transcript.

So election officials in Miami-Dade County, Florida, have decided to quit counting votes tonight.

Colorado approves recreational marijuana. Massachusetts okays medical marijuana.

Maine apparently also okays marriage equality.

     ... Here's the text of Romney's concession speech.

CW: hmm, I was looking for video of Romney's concession speech, & this is what I found:

At 12:15 12:45 am ET, Mitt Romney still not conceding although all networks have called the election for President Obama. ...

     ... Update: Romney to speak at 12:55 am ET. Won't tell press what he'll say. ...

     ... Update 2: Romney has called the President to congratulate him; will concede.

Maryland voted yes on gay marriage, the first state to do so (gay marriage in other states has been decided by courts or by state legislatures).

AP: "President Barack Obama won re-election Tuesday night despite a fierce challenge from Republican Mitt Romney, prevailing in the face of a weak economy and high unemployment that encumbered his first term and crimped the middle class dreams of millions. 'This happened because of you. Thank you' Obama tweeted to supporters as he secured four more years in the White House."

NBC reports that Fox "News" has also called Ohio for the President, but Karl Rove is on-air trying to talk the network out of its decision. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is refusing to concede Ohio.

HERE'S THE WINNING MAP:

Hartford Courant: "President Obama was projected to win Connecticut's seven electoral votes, even as hundreds of people stood in line to vote after the polls closed in some of the state's major cities."

Chicago Tribune: "Thousands of people with tickets to President Barack Obama’s election result party will soon begin arriving at McCormick Place."

Monday
Nov052012

Congressional, Gubernatorial Races

Congressional Races

By State, in Alpha Order

NBC projects that Democrats retain control of the Senate. At noon Wednesday, Democrats now have 52 seats in the Senate. The North Dakota Senate seat, where Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is leading, is the only Senate contest that the networks or the AP haven't called.

     ... Update: the AP has called the North Dakota race for Heidi Heitkamp, bringing the total number of Democratic Senators to 53, with two Independents, one of whom is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who causes with the Democrats; the other is Senator-Elect Angus King of Maine, who has been cagey about his plans.

NBC projects that Republicans will retain the House. As of noon Wednesday, Democrats have picked up 5 seats. Currently AP-confirmed totals are Republicans 232, Democrats 191.

Arizona Senate: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) defeats Democrat Dr. Richard Carmona to fill the seat vacated by Sen. John Kyl (R). Another shame.

California Senate: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) retains her seat.

Connecticut Senate: NBC calls the race for Rep. Chris Murphy (D) in what was expected to be a close race against the self-funded Wrestling Lady Linda McMahon (R).

Delaware Senate: Sen. Tom Carper (D) retains his seat.

Florida Senate: Miami Herald: "Democrat Bill Nelson strolled easily into reelection for a third term Tuesday, demolishing Republican challenger Connie Mack IV by a wide margin in a bitterly fought and expensive contest. Nelson, 70, will return to Washington as the only Democrat in statewide office in Florida...."


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/06/3085076/nelson-appears-headed-to-easy.html#storylink=cpy

Florida House: Orlando Sentinel: "Look out, Congress. Alan Grayson is coming back. The fiery Orlando Democrat won a double-digit victory on Tuesday night, besting Republican Todd Long in Florida's newly created 9th Congressional District... His victory was all but assured once the Aug. 14 primary was over. The 9th Congressional District, which includes Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk, is heavily Democratic, and Grayson raised $3.5 million in campaign funds to Long's $91,000.... Grayson also drew one of the weaker candidates in the Republican field — in part because he spent more than $110,000 in the GOP primary to help sink John Quiñones, the Hispanic chair of the Osceola County Commission."

Florida House: Newsweek: "One of Congress's top Islamophobes, Republican Rep. Allen West, lost his reelection bid to Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy early this morning. With 100 percent of votes in from South Florida's 18th District, Murphy edged out the Tea Party freshman West by less than 2,500 votes, despite lopsided fundraising. West spent more than $17 million to Murphy's $3.6 million, and both candidates poured money into ads that made the race one of the country's nastiest." ...

     ... Dan Amira of New York: "With 100 percent of precincts reporting, but with some provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted, West trails political newcomer Patrick Murphy by .74 percent, or 2,456 votes. Murphy's campaign has declared victory, while West has yet to concede and is demanding a recount in one county which he claims has shown 'hostility and demonstrated incompetence.' However, in Florida, recounts are triggered when the winning margin is .5 percent or less, not when a candidate wants one really bad." (CW Note: West ran in a nice, new GOP-friendly district. During redistricting, the Florida Republican legislature attempted to make West's district Republican-safe.)

Hawaii Senate: Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) defeats former Gov. Linda Lingle (R).

Illinois House: the wonderful Tammy Duckworth (D) defeats the hideous Joe Walsh (RTP).

Indiana Senate: Indianapolis Star: "Democrat Joe Donnelly used a message of bipartisanship to earn an unlikely victory amid a Republican tide Tuesday night -- a win also aided by campaign comments by his opponent, Richard Mourdock, that troubled some voters. Donnelly now must try to ... hold onto a seat that Republicans will be eager to take back in six years. His win helped Democrats retain their majority Tuesday might, and he received a congratulatory call from former President Bill Clinton."

Maine Senate: NBC calls it for Angus King, an independent who will probably caucus with the Democrats & favors ObamaCare.

Maryland Senate: the AP calls the race for Sen. Ben Cardin (D).

Massachusetts Senate: Boston Globe: "Elizabeth Ann Warren, a fierce consumer advocate who galvanized liberals across the nation, won a decisive victory over Senator Scott Brown Tuesday, avenging the Democratic Party’s bitter loss ­at the hands of Brown in 2010, an upset that jolted the national political landscape. Buoyed by a strong showing in urban strongholds and liberal suburbs, Warren made history: She will become the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate.... With 91 percent of the precincts reporting, Warren led Brown by 8 percentage points, 54 percent to 46 percent."

Michigan Senate: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) retains her seat.

Minnesota House: Bummer. Washington Post: "Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), founder of the Tea Party Caucus and an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, hung on to her House seat by narrowly defeating challenger Jim Graves."

Minnesota Senate: Sen. Amy Kobuchar (D) retains her seat.

Mississippi Senate: Sen. Roger Wicker (R) retains his seat.

Missouri Senate: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) beats Rep. Todd Akin (RTP) & retains her seat.

NEW. Montana Senate: Sen. Jon Tester (D) retains his seat.

Nebraska Senate: Republican Deb Fischer bests former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey (D). This is a pick-up for Republicans; the seat is currently held by ConservaDem Ben Nelson.

New Hampshire: All of the leadership in New Hampshire -- Governor, U.S. Senators, Congressmembers -- are women. Gov.-Elect Hassan is the only female governor in the country now. I believe in 2008, the New Hampshire state senate became majority women. There's something great about New Hampshire.

New Jersey Senate: Sen. Bob Menendez (D) retains his seat.

New Mexico Senate: Rep. Martin Heirich (D) wins seat to replace Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingamin.

New York Senate: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) retains her seat.

NEW. North Dakota Senate: on Wednesday afternoon, the AP finally called North Dakota for Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat.

Ohio Senate: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) retains his seat. Whew!

Oregon Senate: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) retains her seat.

Pennsylvania Senate: NBC projects Sen. Bob Casey (D) as the winner.

Rhode Island Senate: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) retains his seat.

Tennessee Senate: NBC calls the race for Sen. Bob Corker (R).

Texas Senate: Republican Tea Partier Ted Cruz is the projected winner.

Utah Senate: Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch retains his seat.

Vermont Senate: the AP has called the Vermont Senate race for Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. CW: I'm awfully happy Bernie is the first Senate call of the night.

Virginia Senate: Washington Post: "Timothy M. Kaine defeated George Allen in Virginia’s Senate race Tuesday night, the climax of an intensely watched matchup that cost more than $80 million."

West Virginia Senate: NBC has called the WVA Senate race for Sen. Joe Manchin, a so-called Democrat who often votes with Republicans.

Wisconsin Senate: Wisconsin State Journal: "U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate late Tuesday. Baldwin beat longtime former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson after a bruising campaign that included tens of millions of dollars in negative ads. Baldwin also is the first woman elected to the Senate from Wisconsin."

Wyoming Senate: Sen. John Barrasso (R) retains his seat.

 

Governors' Races

By State, in Alpha Order

Indiana: horrible Rep. Mike Pence (RTP) takes the governorship. Bad choice, Hoosiers.

New Hampshire: Concord Monitor: "Maggie Hassan will become the 81st governor of New Hampshire after defeating Republican Ovide Lamontagne yesterday, keeping the corner office in Democratic hands as Gov. John Lynch steps down after an unprecedented four terms."

North Carolina: Republican Pat McCrory wins an open seat, vacated by Democrat Beverly Purdue.

North Dakota: Gov. John Dalyrymple (R) retains his seat.

Vermont: Peter Shumlin (D) wins governorship.

Utah: Gov. Gary Herbert (R) retains his seat.

Monday
Nov052012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 6, 2012

Returns of the Day

Byron Wolf of ABC News: "The small hamlet of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire ... votes right at midnight.... This year ten voters ... split evenly -- five votes apiece -- for President Obama and ... Mitt Romney.... The other New Hampshire town with midnight voting -- the slightly more populous (32 voters) Hart's Location -- swung towards Obama tonight -- 23 Obama, 9 Romney."

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "If President Obama wins re-election on Tuesday, the historical memory of the race might turn on the role played by Hurricane Sandy. But while the storm and the response to it may account for some of Mr. Obama's gains, they do not reflect the whole story.... Mr. Obama had already been rebounding in the polls, slowly but steadily, from his lows in early October -- in contrast to a common narrative in the news media that contended, without much evidence, that Mr. Romney still had the momentum in the race. Moreover, there are any number of alternatives to explain Mr. Obama's gains before and after the storm hit." Thanks to a reader for the graphic, which was posted on Daily Kos & elsewhere.... we are at the point where the polling averages in each state are pretty much locked in -- and it is mostly a question of whether the actual results will approximate them, in which case Mr. Obama should claim enough electoral votes between Ohio and other states to win another term." Silver gives Obama a 92 percent chance of winning, which leaves Rmoney with 8 percent odds. Thanks to a reader for the graphic, which appeared on Daily Kos & elsewhere. ...

     ... Update: the latest from Silver: it's Barack-o-Mentum.

... NEW. Nate Cohn of The New Republic: "Obama leads by at least 3 points with 49 percent of the vote in the states won twice by Kerry and Gore, plus New Mexico, Nevada, and Ohio. These states are worth 272 electoral votes [270 needed to win], and with the exception of a stray poll in Michigan, Romney doesn't lead in a single non-partisan survey in any of those states."

... Jon Cohen, et al., of the Washington Post: "Heading into Election Day, likely voters divide 50 percent for President Obama and 47 percent for ... Mitt Romney, according to the latest, final weekend release of the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll." ...

... NEW. David Atkins of Hullabaloo immortalizes the GOP predictions of the day, all of which have Romney winning in an Electoral College landslide.

President Obama's last campaign rally, or as Michelle Obama put it, the "final event of my husband's final campaign":

E. J. Dionne: "... Obama is fighting a Republican Party determined to bring the Gilded Age back and undo the achievements of a century. And so, beneath the attacks, the counterattacks, and the billions invested by small numbers of the very rich to sway the undecided, we face a choice on Tuesday that is worthy of a great democracy. My hunch is that the country will not go backward, because that's not what Americans do."

CW: I don't agree with some of the prognosticating in Jayne Mayer's post in the New Yorker on the relative rarity of second-term presidents, but there is some content worth reading, especially this: "Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale's Vice-Presidential running mate in 1984, slugged Washington super lawyer Bob Barnett after her debate preparation."

For you football fans, BuzzFeed has videos of Obama & Romney talking sports (or in Romney's case, "sport") & football on last night's "Monday Night Football."

"Tell Mitt Romney Climate Change Isn't a Joke": This Web ad, produced by Forecast the Facts, has had 630,000+ hits. The group is not endorsing President Obama:

At least Montgomery Burns is totally behind Romney, even if Seamus imcaninators aren't:

Prof. Kevin Kruse in a New York Times op-ed: "... the Romney campaign's ... fundamental disdain for facts is something wholly new.... Win or lose, the Romney campaign has placed a big and historic bet on the proposition that facts can be ignored, more or less, with impunity." Kruse identifies four factors that have encouraged fact-abuse.

The Word According to Andy Borowitz

We're strongly opposed to FEMA and health care, but basically O.K. with rape. -- Official Republican Party Closing Argument ...

... Our argument couldn't be simpler: when God wants to create a hurricane or make a woman pregnant, big government should get out of the way. -- Reince Priebus, Republican party chair, elaborating

Zachary Roth of NBC News: aw, shucks. Chris Christie & Mitt Romney are having a little spat on election eve.

"A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow":

Now that the campaign is (mostly) over, I can reveal what Barack Obama really thinks:

Congressional Races

Eight Democratic Congressmen Who Are Class-A Jerks. A lovely slideshow by Katie McDounough of Salon. One of them, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, is running for Senate against Dick Moredick, the pregnancy-by-rape-&-divine-will guy. Their platforms, however, are pretty much the same.

Voting Problems

Chicago Tribune: "The Chicago elections website was non-functioning most of the day today, adding to the confusion among voters who didn't realize their polling sites had changed. The Chicago Board of Elections website, which voters could use to check where to vote, went down early Tuesday morning. It was functioning by about 4:00 this afternoon."

New Jersey. NorthJersey.com: "In response to widespread reports that voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy haven't received their email and fax ballots on Election Day, the state has extended the deadline for voters to return those ballots to county clerks to 8 p.m. Friday."

Florida. No Electioneering or Engineering Here. Boca News Now: poll workers in Boca Raton blocked a woman wearing an M.I.T. tee-shirt from entering the polling place because they thought she was wearing a Romney campaign shirt. The college lady was eventually allowed to vote when some poll worker figured out how to spell "Mitt."

Illinois. CW: This is a photo of the ballot a poll worker gave a voter at a South Lake Shore Drive Chicago polling place this morning. The voter, Brittney Edwards, took the photos. I am liking the choices for Cultural Commissioner, even if they are dead. Read the Chicago Tribune story:

Pennsylvania. Charles Pierce has more on the Pennsylvania poll voter obstructionists. From a news report: "An Allegheny County judge issued an order to halt electioneering outside a polling location in Homestead. County officials received a complaint shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday that Republicans outside a polling location on Maple Street in Homestead were stopping people outside the polls and asking for identification." Pierce notes that these kinds of reports have sent Chuck Todd "to the fainting couch."

New York & New Jersey. David Halbfinger, et al., of the New York Times: "People whose lives were upended by Hurricane Sandy joined other voters on Tuesday to cast ballots after elected officials in New York and New Jersey scrambled to relocate scores of polling places that had become unusable because of power failures, flooding or evacuations."

Pennslyvania. Dan Froomkin reports that Pennsylvania poll workers are turning away voters without IDs even though a court has ruled that IDs are not required in Pennsylvania for this election.

Rhode Island. AP: "Rhode Islanders were facing long lines and, in at least two polling places, the wrong ballots as they began voting Tuesday in a hotly contested congressional race and on whether to allow the state's two slots parlors to turn into full-fledged casinos."

New Jersey. Ryan Reilly of TPM: "Superstorm Sandy is having a devastating effect on voting in New Jersey, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law executive director Barbara Arnwine told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday morning. Voters were being asked for I.D. even though the state has no law requiring it, voting locations opened late and some locations didn't have ballots, she said. 'In a word, there's just one word to describe the experience in New Jersey, and that is catastrophe,' Arnwine said."

     ... Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "New Jersey's last-minute offer of email voting to displaced residents was greeted by concern by security experts, who warn that email offers a fast track to voter fraud. But the system may have another problem as well: County election administrators are, according to anecdotal reports, simply not responding to all requests for ballots. In two major counties, the email address advertised on the website of the county clerk is not even accepting email."

Voter Suppression
"A National Embarrassment"

Jason Sattler of the National Memo: "Democratic strategist Bob Shrum calls the several hours some voters are spending in line waiting for their right to vote a 'poll tax,' harkening to a Jim Crow-era restriction used to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes were specifically banned by the 24th Amendment."

Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker on whether or not there is a Constitutional right to vote.

NEW. AP: an Ohio judge threw out a lawsuit claiming that "experimental" software recently placed on Ohio's vote-tabulating machines -- could alter vote counts. CW: Um, they will be using flash drives to transfer vote-count data. No room for data manipulation there. Holy shit! ...

... AND Mark Warren of Esquire: Ohio Gov. & former Fox "News" guy John Kasich (R) says Romney will win Ohio by 50,000 votes. CW: I wonder if Kasich is the guy holding the flash drive.

NEW. Joseph of Plunderbund: Tea Party-backed "election observers" of True the Vote, who planned to concentrate their "observations" on heavily-African American voting districts in Ohio, "will not be allowed in Franklin County, Ohio, polling locations because the local elections board discovered that True the Vote had forged some signatures on their qualifying forms. ...

     ... Update: The Columbus Dispatch has the story now.

Libertarian Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic: "Hours-long election lines stretching many city blocks are a national embarrassment. And those responsible should be condemned across ideological lines. In Florida and Ohio, state officials arranged things such that citizens had to stand in line for hours to cast their ballot. Asked to extend early voting so that casting a ballot might be a bit less burdensome, they refused. It's an outrage."

NEW. Tim Padgett of Time: Gov. Rick "Scott and the Florida GOP can hand us all the disingenuous reasons they want for reducing early-voting days, including their favorite canard: cracking down on voter fraud. But their real impetus was to reduce Democratic turnout, because Democrats tend to do more early voting than Republicans -- and because they gave Obama a 9-point lead among early in-person voters in 2008.... [Although Scott, et al., have succeeded in bringing early voting down from the 2008 level by almost 10 percent,] Democratic voters, who outnumbered Republicans 46% to 36% in early in-person voting this year, seem to have widened their 2008 lead."

NEW. SEIU: "After receiving information indicating that the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the Pittsburgh Tea Party may be systematically sending poll watchers to predominantly African American precincts in Pittsburgh, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Common Cause, The Advancement Project, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the ACLU, together with a number of local community groups, sent a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, who is responsible for enforcing the Voting Rights Act, asking that the Justice Department 'make every effort to ensure that voters at these targeted locations are able to cast their ballots freely and fairly' and also to ask the Pennsylvania Republican Party about the source of its lists and the basis of its targeting."

Dan Froomkin has an overview of ongoing voter suppression efforts.

What a Difference a State Makes. David Halbfinger, et al., of the New York Times: "Elected officials in New York and New Jersey scrambled Monday to enable displaced citizens to vote in the election on Tuesday, relocating scores of coastal polling places that had become unusable because of power failures, flooding or evacuations. New Jersey and New York both said they would allow voters uprooted by Hurricane Sandy to cast provisional ballots anywhere in their states."

Laboratories of Democracy, Etc.

Abby Rapoport of American Prospect highlights a few if the low lights running for re-election in state legislatures.

Frank Bruni: same-sex marriage opponents trot out the same tired, discredited arguments -- the gays are recruiting your kids, and other fear-mongering oldies. ...

... Josh Voorhees of Slate has some polling on how the gay marriage ballot initiatives may fare.

Reeferendum:

The Home Front

Matt Glassman has some wise & foolish advice for how to spend today -- and tonight. Via Greg Sargent. Do feel free to contribute you own advice, voting experience, whatever.

News Lede

AP: "Gunmen shot and killed the brother of Syria's parliament speaker as he drove to work in the capital Damascus on Tuesday, the state-run news agency reported on Tuesday. Mohammed Osama Laham, brother of Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham, was killed in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan...." CW: excuse me, their names are Osama & Jihad??? I am thinking these are not the Pro-America Laham Brothers.

Monday
Nov052012

The Real America Is Not Pro-America

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000. A broad mandate this is not. -- Jim Vandehei & Mike Allen of Politico

Think about that. Josh Marshall of TPM did. He helpfully translates the Politico writers' meaning into plain English: "Obama’s winning but not with the best votes. I mean really, if you can’t win with a broad cross-section of white people, can you really be said to represent the country? Really."

So get this, people. If you're Hispanic, African-American, a single woman anywhere or a highly-educated urban white, you are not a full-fledged citizen. Maybe, you know, your vote shouldn't  count as much as a white person's vote. Perhaps 3/5ths of a vote is all you deserve. Surely, the belief that Vandehei and Allen toss out helps explain why Republican leaders feel comfortable and justified in suppressing the votes of blacks, Hispanics, students and urban voters.

The Politico writers are simply expressing, in a slightly different way, what Sarah Palin meant in 2008 when she told (white) North Carolinians they lived in "the real America" and the "pro-America areas of this great nation."

There is a particular irony to this line of thinking which anyone who has lived in the American South or in parts of the West knows. White Southerners are Southerners first and Americans second. Many of them are still fighting the Civil War. They resent the North, and they express this resentment in their loathing of the federal government. A hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, the federal government is still a powerful agent of suppression. It wasn't just the war, it wasn't just Reconstruction; it was Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Acts, the Voting Rights Acts, Title IX. It's "liberal judges," it's the EEOC, it's the Clean Air Act, it's OSHA, it's Lilly Ledbetter, it's ObamaCare. The South still believes in states' rights; Southerners and Westerners are Tenthers because they are not pro-America. They want their independence. That standard Republican line, "We don't want Washington telling us ... (fill in the blank)" resonates with these people.

Racism, xenophobia, Tentherism, gun obsession, anti-abortion activism -- and sexism in general, rumblings about secession -- are all symptoms, not causes, of "Real" America's hatred of the United States of America. These pathologies express a sense of powerlessness and a core belief that the federal government, in particular, is sapping white American men of their God-given right to do whatever they want. The Tea Party reveres Early America because in those times, certain men of certain European stock had a monopoly on power. (It never occurs to the Tea Partiers, of course, that the majority of them do not come from that same stock. They assume, wrongly, that they have the right stuff. Why women belong to the Tea Party baffles me; it might be ignorance of history [see Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann], it might be Stockholm Syndrome.)

The only part of the federal government these "Real" Americans support is the military. Why that is should be obvious: the purpose of the military, in their eyes, is to gain dominion over all of the second-class citizens of the world; that is, Anybody But Us.

Some will see another irony in "Real" Americans' hatred of the federal government: that is that red states, generally, get more back from the federal government than they put into it, something New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie alluded to last week. This really is not so ironic when you look at it from the point of view of a Real American: (1) I deserve it, and (2) I resent it. There's a general belief that people are grateful for favors. A lot of us are. But that gratitude often turns into resentment. We "owe" our benefactor. That gives him a certain power over us. Add to that the likelihood that the benefactor was more powerful in the first place: he was able to do a favor because he had some power we didn't have. In fact, often he continues to exert that power. Yeah, I was glad the boss hired me, but now he's making me jump through hoops. Yeah, I was glad the bank gave me a loan that I barely qualified for; now I'm paying usurious interest. Yeah, the government gave me food stamps when I was out of a job; now that I'm back at work they're taxing the hell out of me.

The Republican party is awfully good at tapping into that resentment, and they're good at it because the party leaders share it. Those whom they don't resent, they despise. They are all about power, power they believe they deserve. When the Romneys say its "their turn," they believe it. They resent the 47 percent, and they don't think "those people" -- those irresponsible moochers -- should have equal rights. "Those people" haven't done their fair share. (Never mind that this isn't necessarily true.) When Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen imply some are more equal than others, they believe that so deeply that it doesn't occur to them not to express it as fact. The Democratic coalition -- they say -- simply does not represent Real America. So it is illegitimate.

This is birtherism writ large. During his first term, the right tried to prove President Obama was not an American. (Oddly, they never tried to prove his mother was not an American. Whether or not Obama was born in Kenya, he would still qualify for the presidency as long as he had an American parent.) This was a necessary sideshow because a lot of Real Americans voted for Obama. In this election, as the Politico writers suggest, many of those former Obama-backing Real Americans will vote for Mitt Romney. This allows Republicans to delegitimize a second Obama term in different ways. One of course will be a claim that the election was rigged. If the election is as close as polls suggest, expect voter fraud suits to pop up almost as fast as conspiracy theories. But the other way to delegitimize the election is already here, perfectly captured by Vandehei & Allen: Obama voters are illegitimate.

So, to those of us who vote for Obama, here's the word: We are all Kenyans now.